I hope you love this blog post by HCA teacher, Audrey Barto, as much as we do... enjoy!
It’s midnight in Costa Rica and our group is piled into our two vans for the drive to the airport in San Jose. Some of us are thrilled to be returning to America, and some of us said tearful goodbyes. We’ve learned the word “onmigos” (ants) and the phrase “Dios de bendiga” (God bless you). The people of Costa Rica welcomed us into their homes, and judging by their many personal prayers tonight, into their hearts as well. Our last day in Costa Rica began with a trip to the beach and ended with the most passionate prayer vigil I have ever experienced. Worship, music, and celebration lasted several hours even before the praying began.
I think I can speak for our group when I say that many things surprised us this week: bugs, humidity, new foods, and sometimes a lack of the extreme wealth to which Americans are accustomed. What surprised me more than anything is the pure joy among the Christians we have come to know. It is so very evident that Jesus has changed their lives. We experienced joy in the worship tonight, but we also observed a strong, enduring joy that saturates daily life for the people in this church.
Our goodbyes tonight have left me thinking about the true fellowship that believers have because of our relationships with Christ. I feel as though I have always known some of the people we have only just met. I have also watched our group work together and also love together. We began the week with team meetings giving our highlights of the day, but we ended the week with heartfelt sharing of the work that Christ is doing in our lives. The love of Jesus has bonded us and taught us the meaning of unity, joy, and peace.
Serving in Costa Rica this week has been one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I believe God brought each of us here for a very specific reason. For me, this reason was to impress on my heart a desire to return to Latin America permanently as soon as possible. I so selfishly love to be in control of my life, and I believe God brought me to this country to soften my heart and surround me with people who encouraged me to give up this control. I know God is teaching each of us something different, and it has been my joy and privilege to watch His work as he changes our hearts. Praise God for his salvation, His extreme mercy, and His overwhelming love.